The Grieving Process

By Devin Mulvey

SC Contributing Writer

This January was the one-year anniversary of my father’s passing. Some days I still wake expecting to see him downstairs at the kitchen counter, briefcase in hand while adjusting his tie or shirt collar.

After I come to, I am not angry and I am not upset. At this point, his passing has become a fact of life for me.

Though I am still in the thick of the thorny process of grieving, I have seen enough of death in my life to discuss the matter.

Most people seem to know the Kübler-Ross model of grieving. The process of denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance is common knowledge.

However, what most people don’t know is how long it really takes for someone to complete one stage, or the fact that they never might finish.

In my experience, none of these steps occurred within me consciously. They certainly did not happen in the prescribed order either.

Mine has been more like this: denial, denial, denial, depression, and depression with a hint of denial. Now, I am not even sure where I could land within the five steps of grief.

I am able to acknowledge the fact that my father is gone, but there are days where I feel like he is just on an extended business trip.

As such, I feel that these five steps of grief do not accurately depict all the stages of the process.

ESU Professor of Psychology, Dr. Miele, confirmed this premise. He stated that in recent years, “The Kübler-Ross model for grief has been met with resistance because it fails to summarize the highly individualized process of grieving.”

While the model captures the essence of the major steps, it completely misses the transitory states you must live in for months to get to those steps.

For instance, there are stretches of days where I wake up and fall asleep to twilight. I do not rise with sun, nor do I fall with it. My existence seems to stagnate within an eternal limbo where time is no longer fluid and the goals I set stay on the distant horizon, getting no closer or farther.

This may all sound horribly depressing, but the worst part is that it does not hurt to live in this place. The only feelings it can evoke are frustration, confusion, or pure apathy.

With all this being said, it may be easy to conclude that losing a loved one will bring your life to a screeching halt. However, you must realize that death above all brings change. It comes with good and bad. While you lose someone integral to you, it brings the others around you closer together. While your life changes in an unexpected way, you discover new possibilities you would not have prior.

If my father did not pass away, I would not have been able to realize how unhappy I was in my previous major. His untimely death allowed me to prioritize my goals and see a bigger picture beyond the next four years of my life.

Above all death is not biased, but is not fair either. It simply is. Knowing this you are able to realize that life is so much more valuable than we could ever perceive it to be.

Anyone who is suffering from a loss or has an ill family member, I can tell you not to worry. There is so much worth living for even after that person has to leave your life.

It will take time, but you will find beauty in every day life again. After it is all said and done you must seek out your own independent happiness. You must find the things you love and remind the people you love every day whether it is through actions or words.

If you ever feel lost in the twilight lit woods of grief, remember that there are millions of people out there searching with you. Reach out to them and they might be the one who is able to lead you out of this forest that is human nature.

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